Despite many single-use coffee cups displaying a recyclable symbol, this almost always only applies to the removable cardboard sleeve.
Single-use paper cups are actually constructed in such a way that they’re difficult to recycle, because the paper is fused with a polyethylene coating which makes it waterproof. Only a few recycling plants are able to separate the two materials and recycle them. Styrofoam cups are not recyclable at all.
This means that the vast majority of single use coffee cups end up in landfill. When you consider that 25 billion single-use cups are used globally each year, this makes coffee cups a significant contribution to the waste crisis.
Buying a reusable coffee cup instead is a simple swap you can make to make your lifestyle more sustainable. Think of it this way: if you buy a coffee every day, you would be keeping 365 cups out of landfill on your own every year.
There are lots of different styles of reusable cup, from leak-proof travel mugs to silicon-lidded porcelain designs, so there’s something to suit everyone from the seasoned commuter to the casual coffee drinker.
One great option is to shop with Etsy business Love Sustain Lifestyle. A sustainability and zero-waste-lifestyle shop, Love Sustain Lifestyle offer a whole range of sustainable products such as mesh produce bags and wheat grass based lunchboxes.
In terms of reusable coffee cups, they offer a lightweight stainless steel design complete with insulating silicon sleeve and plastic lid to prevent spillage. While not leak proof and therefore not perfect if you need to throw your coffee in your bag and forget about it, this is a great option to use while walking to work or on public transport to prevent spillage.
BPA free and dishwasher safe, this is a stylish, convenient and non-toxic reusable cup option. It’s available in several different color options from sleek black to mystical iridescent, and has a 350ml capacity.
2. Frank Green
Founded by Benjamin Young and built on his passion for the environment and coffee, Frank Green offer some of the best reusable coffee cups there are.
Built with either plastic or ceramic and stainless steel, these rustic yet sleek reusable coffee cups are practical, durable and attractive. Frank Green’s ceramic cup-come-thermos designs are lightweight yet thoroughly insulating, making carrying your hot coffee around a breeze.
As well as the ceramic and steel option, Frank Green offer a 100% plastic option made from a 100% recyclable co-polymer. All their production materials are sourced locally as well, minimizing the carbon footprint of the production process.
Cups are available in a huge array of patterns and designs, from Disney to leopard print, and are offered in 6oz, 12oz and 16oz models to suit your coffee needs.
Also fully airtight, these reusable coffee cups are leak proof and a great option if you need to put your coffee in your bag rather than carry it. Essentially fully portable travel mugs, the Frank Green reusable cups are highly practical, great quality and certainly keep a firm lid on your hot beverage.
Another Etsy offering, Wisconsin-based Amber Gavin sells her stunning handmade ceramics through her store Forward Pottery, and her artistic and functional designs make beautiful additions to anyone's cupboard.
Her reusable coffee cups have a twisted design, and a unique "melting look" paint job which make for a really unusual, stylish coffee cup.
As well as the quirky aesthetic, the fact that these cups are made from ceramic stoneware makes them really pleasant to drink from, feeling just like a mug you might use at home. The silicon lid also keeps the heat in, making them spill-free and great to take on a walk or to the cafe.
These mugs are also fired especially to be durable, and as a result are safe for use in ovens, dishwashers and microwaves and fully food safe too. This makes these cups really easy to care for and fit into your everyday routine.
Like many sustainability businesses, Jococups was started as a personal protest against consumer culture and the single use plastics waste crisis. Jococups describe their products as hardworking and fine looking, and they certainly are.
They’re made with durable materials to ensure long term use; by Jococo’s estimation, investing in one reusable coffee cup (and consistently using it!) will eliminate a lifetime footprint of 38,325 single-use cups for a single person.
Each cup is made from hand-blown, etch and thermal-shock resistant borosilicate glass, with a stain and odor resistant silicon sleeve and unique no splash design for easy drinking. They have a timeless no nonsense design which makes them work with any aesthetic.
Aside from all the good stuff about he cups themselves, part of each purchase made at Jococups goes towards the Seabin Project, actively helping to clean up plastic waste from the oceans.
5. 614 Vinyl
An especially good option if you’re buying a reusable coffee cup as a gift, 614 Vinyl offer hand-decorated coffee cups in an impressive range.
If the existing quirky designs aren't for you, you can buy a fully personalized cup choosing everything from font to color, and the range of each is impressive.
As well as the fully customizable design options, these cups also have a 16 ounce capacity and double walled structure, ensuring good insulation, as well as a screw on plastic lid which makes spillages a thing of the past.
Also one of the cheaper options, these are a cheerful, durable and practical option for a great sustainable gift or to get your own reusable coffee cup.
Taking the desirable title of the world’s first barista standard reusable coffee cup, a Keep Cup is sure to keep you on your favorite coffee artist’s good side. Unlike other cups, Keep Cups fit neatly under coffee machine group heads,so if you’re a real coffee connoisseur, then this is the reusable cup for you. Designed with the objective of allowing people to sustainably enjoy good coffee on the go, the Keep Cup was born.
As well as making a great product, Keep Cup are founded on truly sustainable and environmentalist beliefs, strongly believing that each individual person makes a difference and using their success to create meaningful change.
Keep Cups are designed with their lifecycle and impact thoroughly in mind, and as well as having a lower impact and carbon footprint than disposable cups over very few uses, the cups are made from lightweight, durable plastic, glass and cork.
One unique aspect of KeepCups is that their products are modular, meaning that many of the individual parts such as sleeves and lids can be replaced on their own, rather than having to buy a whole new product, thereby increasing their sustainability.
Keep Cup also provide a huge amount of information about sustainable materials that anyone interested in living sustainably would enjoy taking a look at!
Investing in a reusable coffee cup is one of the simplest steps you can take towards a sustainable lifestyle, and there are endless options out there. From the quirky indie cups of Forward Pottery to the scientifically designed, barista-approved Keep Cup, remember this: the best reusable cup is the one you use.